By: Christina Vipond
Is it a race without Rob, Mortimer and dog snouts? Racers can catch a glimpse of Rob Meendering, Rob Meendering Photography, behind trees or right in the middle of the road, not moving as the bikes whistle by. I had the opportunity to talk with Rob and get his story.
As a teen and in his early 20s Rob wanted to be anywhere other than Michigan. He had always had an interest in photography and took photos during the time he traveled. He had cheap cameras during this time and even used throw away cameras. Eventually, his very nice in-laws who spoil him, bought him a nice lens.
Rob told the story of being a regular smoker and drinker. He drove an old jeep and worked at a garage. When gas prices went up to $4, he bought a Cannondale mountain bike to get to work and back. One day, he had the bike on the back of his jeep and a family member said he was going to ride Yankee and invited Rob to join. He said he hit every tree and took over 2 hours to ride 1 lap. His wife was a runner and swimmer so they decided to train for a triathlon. Rob decided to get a road bike and coincidentally, he lived 5 doors down from Ada Bike Shop manager, Steve Kunnath. Steve was so energetic and his enthusiasm got Rob excited about riding. He did his first 30 mile ride and joined the Founders team.
Rob started taking his camera to races. After he had finished his race, he would take “really cool” pictures of his teammates. It didn’t take long for race promoters to invite Rob to be the race photographer. He described himself as a “caveman with a camera”. Rob is now an icon at cycling races. I asked him about his favorite moments. He said he loves what he does so much, there isn’t 1 thing. He loves watching folks accomplish something they didn’t think was possible. He enjoys being in the woods, being a part of the experience, seeing his nephew, bad a$$ cyclist, Logan Barksdale, as well as friends. “It’s always great to see Matt Acker and seeing him win.” Another highlight was when Alexy Vermeulen won the Iceman Cometh 2019. Rob was able to chase him with the camera. Another meaningful memory for
Rob was when he was asked to shoot Peak to Peak. Rob had broken his leg in August (riding a bike, of course) and was still wearing a big boot. He told Ted Peacock that he could sit at the finish line. Rob got to the race, ready to shoot the finish line when Joel Voss said he would be chasing Marie and Brandon around the course and invited Rob to ride with him. Rob hopped in with Joel and was able to get pictures from the course. That memory and story is touching for so many of us.
I asked about the dogs. Rob was playing around with a wide angle lens and trying new shots. A dog walked right into the lens and a new category was formed. We all love seeing the pictures of fur friends at the races. Rob will be happy to talk about his rescue pit, Simon. (The Mortimer story is a fun one as well).
There was so much more to our conversation, it was a fun and interesting conversation. It is obvious that Rob loves being out there, taking photos and allowing us all to share our memories. He stated several times that he would never deny how fortunate he is. We are so fortunate to have him out there with us.